Queen Isabella (1451-1504) – Issued 1893
Ironically, the first American stamp to feature a woman held the image of a foreign woman, Queen Isabella of Spain. It was issued in 1893, at the end of a year-long celebration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ 1492 voyage to the Western Hemisphere.
No man with sufficient funds was willing to champion this first perilous venture – but Queen Isabella of Castile was an equal monarch with King Ferdinand of Aragon in the creation of the new nation of Spain, and it is no myth that she put up her personal jewelry as collateral for the risk-filled investment. Historians credit Isabella with greater intelligence and scientific curiosity than her husband. Moreover, when she died in 1504, their daughter, Juana, replaced Isabella as monarch. Ferdinand shared the throne with first his wife and then his daughter as joint rulers.
....1502, also was the year that a rough outline of the southern coast of Florida first appeared on a map. The Spanish had heard of this place from the people Columbus called “Indians,” as the great admiral died in 1508 still believing that he was in or near India. Queen Isabella also used that terminology when she commanded Columbus in 1503 “that the said Indians be converted to our Holy Catholic Faith... See to it that the said Indians are well treated, those who become Christians better than the others.” She specified further that “the Indians shall perform [work] as free people, which they are, and not as slaves.”
After her death the following year, however, enslavement of natives became routine.